Last night I winced with admiration at Asher Keddie’s perfectly lisped portrayal of a young Ita Buttrose in Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo on the ABC. Set in the early 1970s, Paper Giants time travels to Australia’s halcyon days of the women’s glossy magazine complete with loud polyester smocks, boob taping and male objectification. The first episode of the two-part series (which wraps tonight on ABC1, 8:30pm) provided a genuinely interesting snap shot of a time when conservatism ruled and much was taboo.
Buttrose and her nearly all-female editorial team broke ground in a man-dominated world back then, and revisiting the story is compelling stuff. Less compelling was Park Street: the present-day glimpse into the machinations of running popular fashion magazines from ACP Publishing – the home of Cleo. (Perhaps this is because magazine’s like Cleo have become increasingly obsolete as we can easily find out what vibrators and naked men look like thanks to the internet?)
Park St’s premiere episode had an estimated total of 6,289 metro viewers which, in TV-ratings world, is the same as zero. The problems? Most importantly, the show’s central characters are void of any of the really watchable traits that reality TV thrives on like a treacherous bitch or alarmingly dressed gay man, and combine that with sub-dramatic story arcs and a not-nearly-as-exciting-as-you-would-expect cast wardrobe and you’ve got a bona fide reality television mega flop. This is why we hope Pacific Magazines have got something better in mind for their forthcoming fly-on-the-wall documentary series about Marie Claire magazine, punnily named Marie Claire, Under the Cover.
According to Mumbrella the show will cover “everything from high-fashion photo shoots to runway shows; red carpet events to late night deadlines” and is set to air on 7TWO and Seven from June, 2011.